Tag Archives: Writing

On Process

I’ve been writing for a while now, starting back in 2009 and writing and improving my craft with the intent to publish since 2011. I was 15 when I first started sending out short fiction to markets in hopes of publication. But I still took a break to hone my craft and focus on school and succeeded in 2018, at age 21.

The thing is, I feel like I learned very little for the big chunk of that time. The tools and methods available to me were very, very prescriptive and encouraged a writing process that ultimately stagnated my writing instead of improving it. Checklists for worldbuilding, plot, and characters; character profiles that listed minute details that are irrelevant to the story; an expectation to adhere to appeasing a Western SFF-reading majority in both prose level information and how a story is told; everything that taught me to look at elements of a story (its narrative, concept, and plot; its characters, setting, and genre) as separate elements that need to be forced together rather than crafted to work from conception.

The last point is what I want to get at.

Continue reading On Process

Critique Considerations

Or, “How to Make Yourself a Valuable Critique Partner”

Or, I guess, “Critiquing fiction 201” because I feel like most advice is usually at the 101 level.

What does that mean, you ask? I’ll get into that.

I have… too much, I think, experience in various writing communities online. I have a brain wired to trends and patterns and boy there are some trends and patterns people rehash when they give out critique. My goal here is to help you break away from that, to teach you how to read critically and write critically about a work without resorting to prescriptive advice.

Why not prescriptive writing advice? I mean, the short answer is that it’s bad. The long answer is that when you give out the same advice, based off arbitrary “rules” that were established by watering down more nuanced theory and repeated ad nauseum in quick soundbites, you get a lot of same-y writing and further encourage that same-y writing that is generally catered to the traditions of white, western storytelling traditions.

Continue reading Critique Considerations

Publication news!

Forgot to announce it!! My short story, THE SEAFARER, will be appearing in Queen of Swords Press anthology, Scourge of the Seas of Time (and Space)!

This is my first publication, and I’m very proud of my work (and super excited to be a part of an anthology!)

I’ve been riding the residual pirate feels from Black Sails to produce both this and another short story in this universe. Finishing up a third and onto the novella! Hopefully I can get it done before the end of August. They’re no Caribbean pirates, and some of the themes are slightly different, but Black Sails was a Key Source for those good, good gay pirate feelings.

Anyway, the table of contents looks super interesting and if anyone’s interested in some good lgbt pirate content, I highly suggest checking it out when it’s released this December! My Barbary pirates will be included c:

Beautiful Losers or How Leonard Cohen broke how I thought about fiction writing

Where do I even begin.

There’s no doubt Cohen is most well known for his poetry, for Hallelujah in particular. He became such an icon in poetry that “poet” was possibly a sexy career choice. He also wrote some fiction, one of which I read a few months ago for a class, and the other novel I had continued to read excerpts of.

Mostly, though, I want to talk about Beautiful Losers.

Continue reading Beautiful Losers or How Leonard Cohen broke how I thought about fiction writing

Mechanics of Writing: Narrative Voice

I wanted to write a post, when I first started this blog, about genre and word choice. On how each genre tends to have its own “style” of writing which contributes to overall atmosphere of each genre. Given how infrequently I write/publish posts on this blog, it’s no surprise that I’ve proobably reconsidered that idea. It’s not bad, but it was incomplete and my views on word choice in writing have shifted a little.

Instead, I came across a thread on twitter that touched on the “beginner writing rules” and how they aren’t necessarily good. It’s well worth reading but there are some points in there that I want to expand on some more.

So instead of word choice, I want to talk about narrative voice and how prose contributes to story.

Continue reading Mechanics of Writing: Narrative Voice

The Nitpicks: Media does not exist in a vacuum

Thus continues my discourse series on literature and literary academia. Those of you reading who know me might go “Oh no, Ash why? I thought you hated discourse!” While the other half is more thinking “Oh no, here we go again.”

Listen – there’s a place and time for discourse, and I think often enough, it’s important to address.

Speaking broadly, when writing fiction of any kind we highlight stories to show to the world. This can be in all sorts of media: TV, movies, novels, short fiction, plays, podcasts, whatever. For someone, somewhere, your piece of media will be their first time experiencing a story like that, or will be reinforcing their views.

Continue reading The Nitpicks: Media does not exist in a vacuum

Mechanics of Writing: How worldbuilding affects your pacing

This one’s been in my drafts for a while. As have many things, actually. Some of my more lengthy drafts are eagerly awaiting some concrete research that I don’t have the time to do during the school year. Some of these, though, I have no real excuse. Just general bad time management and bad organizational skills.

Lately, I’ve been adapting my dark fantasy world for another D&D campaign, which almost always means I’ve got my mind on worldbuilding, which, for a lot of works I’ve seen, stops barely after the bare minimum. Now, I don’t want you thinking I’m saying this because I have high standards. In fact, I should probably outline a few reasons why worldbuilding is more important than simply the backdrop to your writing.

Worldbuilding creates the skeleton for the rest of your work.

We can consider characters, first, although this isn’t the main thesis for this post. Your characters’ motivations will be affected by the world they grew up in, whether it be cultural, political, or both (usually, both). This doesn’t mean that your characters need to be heavily involved in politics, but keep in mind that the authority in the world trickles down to their level eventually. It affects how others see them, how they view those close to them, what they can or cannot interact with, why they learn the things they do, etc. More often than not, history is an excellent resource for this. Don’t be afraid to use it!

Still, I wanted to talk about something more technical than character building (although if anyone’s interested, I may eventually write that up too).

Stop for a moment and think about what you’ve interacted with on any given day. What sorts of stores are near you? Who runs them and why? What sorts of pressures are they driven by?

Maybe that’s a bit deeper than most people are thinking of on a daily basis.

But that’s the line of thinking you need when you’re worldbuilding. A thorough world for writing doesn’t need to be complete, but it should have some sort of internal logic that doesn’t necessarily need to be explained all at once, but it does need to be there. It should be revealed throughout the story without anything being too unexpected – your worldbuilding should provide a scaffolding for your writing.

Consider that details of a world force the reader away from your characters and your plot. And this isn’t a bad thing, especially when integrated correctly. Even if you’re not writing in a secondary world, these characters interact with just as many things as you might on an average day. As a writer, there’s an important distinction to make regarding these aspects: what’s important to the story? what’s important to these characters?

When you use your characters to reveal your worldbuilding, your pacing can slow, and your readers won’t be pulled from event to event to event.

It can also be very handy in establishing gravity. After all, when a reader is pulled through a series of events, they need to understand the stakes. The world you’re writing in can be as wide and large as international politics, but it could also be as small as two best friends. As a writer, the decision to determine which aspects of your world is important to the story is not something that should be just glazed over. The reader should understand the gravity of what’s happening to these characters, and much of it is revealed through worldbuilding.

Creating and then referencing the internal logic of your world will help readers come to an understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish. Surprises can be good, but surprises should come with an understanding of its gravity.